Friday, January 26, 2018

Peppermint Fudge Cake

Yes, this cake tastes as good as it looks!  Because I have a cooking business now, I wanted to find a special cake to have available for the holiday season.  When I saw this recipe on Pinterest I knew I had to try it.  I ended up making and selling about 10 in December, so it was a busy month!  Although it takes some time to make (I got it down to about 2 1/2 hours), it turns out beautiful and delicious.  I told everyone to keep it refrigerated until about 30 minutes prior to serving, per recommendations from original post, but I found that this made the cake taste dry and crumble when cutting.  The trick is to not over bake the cakes to dry them out, but not under bake them because they will crumble when inverting them out of the pan to layer them.  Also, because of the dark cake and white icing, it takes effort to not get cake crumbles mixed into the icing while smoothing the icing around.  Freezing the cake layers helps with this.  To crush the peppermint, I place unwrapped peppermints in a ziplock bag and hammer gently.  The fudge cake is so good I plan to use it for fudge cakes or cupcakes in the future.  The buttercream icing has peppermint extract for just the right amount of peppermint taste. And the chocolate ganache is easy, delicious, and impressive.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup dark cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate bar, broken in to pieces
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled

2 cups unsalted butter (yes, that's 2 sticks!)
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
6 to 8 cups confectioner's sugar
crushed candy canes (about 12)

Chocolate Ganache:
4 oz semisweet chocolate bar, broken in to pieces
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp light corn syrup

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees,
2.  Grease 3 round pans with Crisco and dust with flour.
3.  Melt the unsweetened chocolate in bowl in microwave and allow to cool.
4.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, dark cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Stir with whisk.
5.  Beat the butter and sugar on slow-med speed until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
6.  Beat in the vanilla.
7.  Beat in the melted chocolate.
8.  Beat in half of the flour mixture.
9.  Beat in the buttermilk and coffee.
10.  Beat in the rest of the flour mixture.
11.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
12.  Remove pans from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
13.  Invert one cake onto serving surface and place in freezer for 10 minutes.
14.  For the icing, beat the butter and peppermint extract in bowl until creamy.
15.  Beat in the confectioner's sugar 1 cup at a time for 5 minutes.  You must beat the whole 5 minutes for desired consistency.
16.  Remove bottom cake layer from freezer and spread icing over the top of it.
17.  Invert the second cake on top of first layer of icing and place in freezer for 10 minutes.
18.  After 10 minutes, remove unfinished cake from freezer and spread a layer of icing on top of the second layer of cake.
19.  Invert the third layer of cake on top of the second layer of icing and place in freezer for 10 minutes.
20.  After 10 minutes, remove unfinished cake and spread icing on top and sides until smooth.
21.  Press crushed candy canes halfway up all around the cake.
22.  Clean off excess icing and candy canes on serving dish.  (I use a wet paper towels for this.)
23.  For Ganache, melt semisweet chocolate, butter, and light corn syrup in microwave and allow to cool some where it's not hot, but still runny.
24.  Using a spoon, scoop chocolate mixture all over top of cake and allow to drizzle down sides.

I like mine best heated in the microwave.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Christmas M and M Cookies

Growing up, my Aunt Cheryl always brought M and M cookies to our family Christmas gathering.  I found this recipe on Pinterest and have to give credit to Cooking Classy.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks, salted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
11 oz bag red and green M and M's

1.  Whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2.  In a separate bowl, mix both sugars and butter with a blender for 3-4 minutes.
3.  Mix in egg and egg yolk.  Stir in vanilla.
4.  Mix in dry mixture slowly.
5.  Mix in M and M's just until combined.
6. Transfer 2 Tbsp scoops of dough to parchment lined baking sheet.  I use a melon baller for this.
7.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

I use a melon baller for this.

You can refrigerate dough for 3-5 days.

Ritzy Chicken

This recipe comes from my father's mother, Grandmother Pat.  She is 84 now and I recently asked her for some recipes I remember her making when I was a kid.  She said she threw them all away! :(  I'm so glad my mom had this one written down.  I've been making it since I got married 12 years ago and my family loves it!  It's similar to Poppy Seed Chicken, but better.

4-5 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz sour cream
1 small can water chestnuts, chopped into small pieces
1 stack Ritz crackers
1/4 cup butter

1.  Mix soups, water chestnuts, sour cream, and chicken together and place in 9x13 casserole dish.
2.  Spread crushed Ritz over top, and pour melted butter over dish.
3.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until bubbly.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Spiced Apple Bundt Cake

Just in time for fall, this spiced apple bundt cake does not disappoint!  Have you ever tried a new recipe that required several steps only to taste it later and be frustrated you wasted the time making it?  That was not the case with this cake.  The recipe comes from my Better Homes and Gardens October 2017 issue.  They called it Double-Apple Mini Bundt Cakes, but I changed the recipe a little and baked it in a regular size bundt pan, so I changed the name.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup spiced apple butter
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and grated
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup raisins
2/3 cup powdered sugar
4 tsp lemon juice

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Place raisins in a bowl and cover with hot water for 5 minutes to make them plump.
3.  Grease bundt pan with Crisco and flour.
4.  In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger.
5.  In another bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes, scraping sides as needed.
6.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Mix in apple butter at low speed. Add grated apples and mix.
7.  Add flour mixture to wet mixture.  Fold in nuts and raisins.
8.  Pour batter into prepared bundt pan.
9.  Bake 50-55 minutes.
10.  Let cool for 15 minutes then transfer cake to platter.
11.  Mix powdered sugar and lemon juice and drizzle over cake.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Korean Beef with Quinoa

2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 Tbsp oil
6 cloves garlic
2 lb beef
4 green onions
2 cups dry quinoa

1.  In a small bowl mix brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ground ginger.
2.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat and cook garlic for 1-2 minutes.
3.  Add beef to skillet and cook until brown.  Drain fat.
4.  Stir in soy sauce mixture and green onions and simmer for 2 minutes.
5.  Cook quinoa according to package directions and serve with beef.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Chicken and Dressing

I'm from the south where we are pretty particular about our dressing being "dressing" and not "stuffing."  If you've tasted both, you know that there is a big difference and I do not care for the stuffing version.  This recipe has a few steps but it is worth the effort.  Now that it is almost September I am offering more fall type dishes for my Tastes Like Home business.  I plan to pair this dish with sweet potato casserole and homemade apple pie.  There is sage is this recipe, which I personally prefer in my dressing.  This dish comes with chicken mixed in, but you could leave that out if you want to make this for a side dish to go with your turkey or ham for the holidays.

4 cups cooked, chopped chicken
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
canola oil
crumbled cornbread (see recipe below)
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 eggs, well beaten
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2-1 Tbsp ground sage
2 cups cornmeal
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups milk
1 Tbsp sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine all cornbread ingredients and pour into greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes.
2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3.  Saute onions and celery in oil until tender.
4. In a large bowl, combine sautéed vegetables, crumbled cornbread, broth, soup, eggs, salt, pepper, and sage.  Mix well.
5.  Stir in chicken.
6.  Pour into greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Strawberry Cake

Everyone loves strawberry cake, right!?!  This recipe comes from Southern Living and the only tricky thing about making this cake is the icing getting runny.  You really need to make sure the cakes have cooled completely before icing and I suggest freezing for about 20 minutes in between icing each layer.  The icing tends to get runny and makes some of the layers shift so I like to keep it refrigerated until about 30 minutes prior to serving.  Also, if you are making this on a really humid day, you probably want to add more powdered sugar to the icing to firm it up even more.  I made this cake for my daughter Camille's first birthday, and my daughter Alivia's 9th birthday.  My daughter Alivia requested I cover her cake in skittles (her favorite candy) in a rainbow design.  You can see in the picture that it had been sitting out a couple of hours at a skating party and was beginning to shift, but she still loved it!

1 box white cake mix
3 oz box strawberry jello
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, finely chopped
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup milk
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
32 oz powdered sugar
1 cup fresh strawberries, finely chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Prepare 3 - 9 inch cake pans with Crisco and flour.
3.  In a large bowl, mix all cake ingredients with electric mixer on medium for 3-4 minutes, scraping down sides as needed.
4.  Pour cake batter into prepared pans and bake about 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
5.  Cool cake in pans for about 10 minutes.  Remove cakes from pans to cool completely.  Put wax paper between layers to cool.
6.  To make frosting, beat the butter for about a minute.
7.  Add powdered sugar and strawberries and beat at low speed until combined and creamy. Set in refrigerator to firm up while cakes are cooling.
8.  Spread frosting on first layer, refrigerate for about 10 minutes.  Frost second layer and refrigerate for about 10 minutes.  Frost third layer and sides and refrigerate until about 30 minutes prior to serving.

Add caption

If you want to skip the skittle decor, but make it a little fancy, you can add cut up strawberries in a flower design on top.